Chapter One - Back Down the Path

There have always been travelers. Back through the mists of time, there were explorers, always looking to the next valley or across the river, or over the horizon. Many of them didn't come back, but that was okay. It meant that they had found something worth finding, or they had found great danger. And even in the days of the cavemen, the next generation always had a couple willing to follow the path. Trailblazers and seekers of the unknown. They're where we came from.

You'll have to excuse a lack of dates and accurate records. As a guild, we don't bother that much with things written down. If you remember it, it's enough, and you go on to tell other people of it. Whether they believe it or not is irrelevant. It's enough that they know it.


The Start of the Journey:

Our start as a Guild came about pretty late on, compared to some of the others. The Artificers go on and on about being the oldest and mightiest of the Guilds, and the Spooks go on about some break with the Haunters. But to be honest, what's behind doesn't matter so much as what's in front. I can't say when we formed. It was shortly after Charon decided that he wanted to have Guilds for each Arcanos. A few Tempest-runners thought that we should be represented or some other group would take our place. They sent out a call on the winds of the storm, and met up with others, usually individually like I am with you, and mentioned the idea. The greatest of them was a Harbinger by the name of Abd al-Karita.

Abd al-Karita was one of those Middle Eastern guys, though I have no idea what he did on the other side of the Shroud. I ain't sure I care that much. He's served us well as Guild master, and he's very good at what he does. It was he that influenced us, and that's why we have an oral history and oral traditions. That's also the reason we're more like a support network than a formal organization. He had a silver tongue by all the stories, and seemed to know just what to say to each traveler that he approached. Word of his coming was spread from traveler to traveler, and most agreed to work with him. al-Karita became our default Guild master at the formation, and we were part of the establishment.

Even before then, though, we had the Code. You remember the Code, you don't write it down, you have to be able to repeat it back verbatim to another Harbinger or to a new recruit, if ever you find one.

As you would have done to yourself, do unto others; As you do unto others, do for yourself.

Anyone who helps you in time of need is your friend; Anyone in need of your aid is your friend.

Anyone who knows more than you is your teacher; Anyone who knows less than you is your student.

Never assume you know enough; Never assume you know too much.

Respect the Storm and the Storm will respect you; Understand the Storm and you will understand yourself.

Early Days on the Road:

I won't make like some of the other Guilds and claim that they were glory days. But in those days, we were the authority on travel and transport, and we diversified. We were the ones finding goods, and it only made sense that we could sell them as well. We became traders as well as pilots, and the sigh of a Harbinger in the Agora always meant there was something interesting to buy.

Those of us who started trading as much as traveling took to wearing distinctive robes and cloaks, for that flair of the dramatic. Nothing can sell things like the right image. Back in those days, imitating a Harbinger's style was seen as a grave insult, and more than one duel was started over just that. The winner was given the right to use the style of the loser, and the loser was either humbled or Harrowed depending on the heat of the moment.

Of course, then came the revolt and the Breaking. The Artificers tried to pull the carpet out from under Charon and the Deathlords, and forgot just how heavy they were. We joined in, of course, we had to. The others wouldn't let us get away with skipping off and laughing from the sidelines, and a fair few of our own number believed the Artificers. Fair enough, I guess. We ran spying missions, aerial attacks, and confusion. When you can be anywhere you need to be, then you become indispensable to those people that need you to do that. Even so, we could see where the future was heading. We held back on the attacks towards the end, we just couldn't take the losses.

Well when that went down, the Breaking was a given. The Guilds were outlawed, and being a member of a Guild was made a forging offense. What the Deathlords didn't catch on to is that the Harbingers was a social club for rogues, misfits, and the kind of lunatic that liked diving into the Tempest and seeing what they could find. We already had the outlaw mentality, the breaking just upped the stakes. And so, with a grin, a wink, and a shiny new badge as a legionnaire, we carried on doing just what we had been doing before.


Back Up the Hill:

With the settling of the first Necropolis, we rose in prominence. After all, who but us and the Ferrymen knew the ways of the Byways and the shortcuts just off them? Harbingers everywhere fractured into three groups. The Explorers plumbed the Tempest, looking for new stories and new objects. Pilots traveled the Byways between Necropolis and Stygia, bringing news and passengers. Merchants found things to sell and flamboyant stories to entertain their customers, not all of which were fake.

The settling of the first Necropolis saw Spooks moved in to clear out the area, remove squatters and the like. We were their transport arrangement. They respected this, and we respected them for not treating us like second-rate restless. They do what they do, we do what we do, and ne'er the twain shall compete.

Sure, it was illegal to have anything to do with a Guild, but we were individual wanderers with a Guild master and a very informal ranking system when we were legal. Several of us had got into the Legions' good books, and carried on doing just what we had. After all, a few Harbingers gathering wasn't anything to be afraid of, was it? They were just going to tell stories, maybe swap trade routes. Four Wraiths telling stories could hardly be a Guild meeting, right?

Yeah. Right.

That's where our lack of written records came to a fore. All that we knew was passed from one to another by word of mouth, for want of a better phrase. Who knew if we were trading stories or discussing Guild matters? Few enough could tell the difference.


Bad Weather Along the Way:

This development seemed to be all good until the Fourth Great Maelstrom. That was a kick in the Fetters and no mistake. Fighting, on both sides of the Shroud. Spectres looking to tear everything down again. And who was there carrying messages, riding a half-second ahead of the storm winds to get messages and warnings through? Who ascended into the winds to knock the Spectres right back down? You guessed it. Us.

It was a messy affair, and no mistake. That's where the Guardians came from. We decided, as a Guild, that we needed the Necropoli, because we needed - and I mean needed - to have a place of calm when we came up to breathe. So some of us decided to tie ourselves to an area. We could see what we needed to, and be where we had to. The Spectres that the Fourth washed up and left behind never had a chance when our Guardians teamed up with the Legions. When the Guardians went solo, all bets were off. We're runners, not fighters.

There was a moment of calm after the storm, that's true. But nowhere near long enough, before boom. Here's the Fifth Great Maelstrom, special delivery from Oblivion. Sign here and go to Oblivion. If the Fourth was bad, the Fifth was insanity. We lost more members in that one moment than we had in the whole damned Guild at the start. The Underworld went to Hell, and the Tempest wasn't anywhere we could think of as safe.

And at the end, up comes Gorool. We were there, watching, when Charon rode out to hack that Malfean to bits. Needless to say, people were expecting too much of the main man. Charon might be the oldest organized Wraith, but lets face it, was no match for a Malfean. That was notably one-sided, but he won a victory of a sort. The storm abated, and we were left back spotting for leftovers.


Still Going...:

So here we are. In the forty years between then and now, what have we done, as a Guild? More than nothing, but not as much as you think. One of our number was knocked off course in the swellings of the Fifth, and found the island between the Shadowlands and Stygia we call Haven. Some of us pulled in favors that the Artificers owed us for getting them some goods (what, you don't think the Masquers have the monopoly on making people disappear, do you?), and Haven became a reality.

A small compound, sheltered against most of the worst that the Tempest has to offer acts as our Guildhall and a refuge from Spectres and Legionnaires alike. Some of the Legions know where Haven is, but they don't go blabbing about it to their superiors. Who wants to lead a charge to a place that close to Spectre territory that's guarded by flying invisible harridans? Not many Legionnaires, I'll give them that.

We worked on Haven, and Reaped those that we needed. We didn't take too many. Explorers, travelers, people that came across with Relic vehicles, and the Guardians got the occasional vigilante or beat cop who knew their home turf as well as they could. Some of us had a flirtation with the space program that the Quick had going, wanting to know if there were Shadowlands in space. We were hoping that there would be new frontiers for us in the Shadowlands. Then when the Challenger exploded, our dreams came crashing down. We've not tried going back into space since then.

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